The Body Fat Breakthrough by Dr. Ellington Darden is a book that features some innovative new ways to lose fat and gain muscle. Darden put his training and diet philosophies to the test when he trained several groups of people from the Gainsville Health and Fitness Center. The results were outstanding. Below we will review his workout program and his keys to success.
Training is the main concept of the book, and Ellington Darden developed a unique and intense training approach. It’s called 30-30-30 and it emphasizes the eccentric part of the repetition, otherwise known as the negative. The eccentric or negative portion of the lift is the lowering of the weight. It’s emphasized in this training program because studies have shown that it leads to more stress on the muscle fibers. This results in bigger and stronger muscles.
So Darden looks to train the eccentric movement more than the concentric (positive) movement. This is where he introduces 30-30-30. In the past, it wasn’t easy to do negative style training. You would need two training partners to lift the weight. Now we have the X-Force machine, but it’s not found in many gyms. So for most people, the best solution is 30-30-30.
What is 30-30-30?
The 30-30-30 concept is simple and it can be done with just about any exercise. You start the exercise in the top position, and you then lower it for 30 seconds, then you raise it for 30 seconds, and then lower it again for 30 seconds. So it’s essentially 1.5 reps. For most exercises, I found this style of training to be challenging. It can be tough to get the full 90 seconds, especially at the end.
To get started with 30-30-30, you will need either a large clock on the wall, or a sports watch. Preferably you will have both. Then you can pick an exercise and a weight that you can do for 10-12 reps. For your first few training sessions, Darden recommends doing 20-20-20, to make it easier and to focus on your form. If you prefer, you can start off with just bodyweight exercises. This way you don’t even need a gym or special equipment. With no equipment at all, you can do the squat, pushup, calf-raise, and dip. And with only a Bosu ball you can do the sit-up, side crunch, and back raise.
Note: It’s really helpful to carry a training log with you to log your workouts. You can put down the weight, the number of seconds you did, and any notes that you have.
During the group experiment, Darden found that the most progress was made when his participants trained once a week. This allows a full and complete recovery. It’s the same recovery period as HIT.
It’s recommended that you take a cold plunge (ice bath) after your workout. The reason is that cold is really good for your muscles. Your muscles don’t work properly in intense heat, makes it a lot harder to generate chemical energy. Cold will minimize the micro-trauma in the muscle fibers after a workout. It will also eliminate aches and pains.
If you gym doesn’t have a cold tub, then you can take a cold shower. If you’re ambitious then you can even build one yourself and put it in your backyard. You can buy all of the supplies at your local hardware store.
It’s recommended that you set the temperature of the water to 52 degrees Fahrenheit— colder water is not necessarily better. You should stay in the tub for 5-10 minutes.
This is a sample workout for weeks 3-4 of the 6 week program.
- Leg Curl
- Leg Extension
- Leg Press (or Barbell Squat)
- Chest Press (or Barbell Bench Press)
- Lat Machine Pulldown
- Dumbbell Triceps Extension
- Barbell Curl
- Situp on Declined Board
It’s really important to understand the science of thermodynamics when it comes to losing weight. Thermodynamics is the concept of heat in regards to fat storage. Body fat is considered a form of heat.
Energy = Fat = Heat = Calories = Energy
1 ounce of fat contains 219 calories.
Einstein stated that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but it can be transferred. So technically, you can’t lose fat but you can transfer it out. How do you transfer it out? Mostly through your skin, lungs, and urine.
How to take advantage of thermodynamics?
- Stay cooler
- Wear lighter clothes
- Keep the temperature down in your home
- Ditch the socks
- Take ice baths
- Avoid hot showers
In the book there is not as much diet info as there is workout info. But there is a diet plan which is an important part of the program.
Carbs are emphasized in the program because they are the body’s source of energy. You want to make sure that you get them from good sources such as fruits and vegetables and not from junk food. For macros, Darden recommends that you hit 50 percent carbs, 25 percent fats, and 25 percent protein.
Calories are also important. You don’t want to go too low, because you need to maintain muscle mass. Men are recommended to consume 1200-1800 calories daily. For women it’s 1000-1500 calories. In the 6 week program, calories descend by 100 every two weeks. Men start out at 1600 and drop down to 1400. Women go from 1400 to 1200. You shouldn’t ever go below 1000 calories a day, which is dangerous because it puts you in starvation mode.
It’s recommend that you eat 6 meals per day. Eat smaller meals (400-500 calories) so that your body doesn’t trigger excess insulin production. Insulin is a pro-fat hormone.
The reality is that most Americans are dehydrated. Hydration is a big part of the program and the plan is to drink more water— a lot more water. Darden calls it “Superhydration” and he recommends that you drink 1 gallon per day. This is because your body needs a lot of water. The human body is 50-65% water. Muscles are 72% water. This is why Darden believes that protein is overrated when it comes to muscle building, and he believes water is more important.
An extra bonus of drinking more water is that it can help you burn extra calories. If you drink cold water at 40 degrees then your body has to heat it to 98.6 degrees. This requires energy.
Overall this book is an entertaining read with a lot of good insights. A lot of the information given was new to me, and the book introduced a lot of innovative training techniques. There is something in this book for everyone, whether it relates to fat loss, muscle gain, or diet advice. I recommend giving The Body Fat Breakthrough a read, you may learn something that can greatly improve your health and fitness.